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Mobile Pedagogy for English Language Teaching

Project website/blog 

What research questions the project addresses; aims & themes

The research is based around English language learning and the use of mobile media. Mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) takes place inside and outside language classrooms, including more informal and work-based settings where learning on a portable device complements formal learning, or may be a substitute for it. Mobile Pedagogy for ELT (English Language Teaching) is founded on the belief that while mobile devices can support self-directed learning and language learner autonomy, the role of teachers is equally important. Mobile-assisted language learning is not simply the transfer of current teaching and learning materials and practices to a mobile device, but a complete reconceptualisation of these. Existing mobile applications have yet to catch up with this idea, often transmitting content rather than exploiting opportunities for communication and collaboration.
Mobile Pedagogy for ELT aims to enhance the mobile experience for adult learners and their teachers, specifically UK based immigrants who need to improve their English in order to be successful in securing or keeping a job, and international students needing to improve their English for access to study at UK universities, and those who teach or support them. This project responds to the need to advance research in mobile-assisted language learning, to share knowledge and expertise with practitioners, and to develop appropriate pedagogical strategies so that mobile phones and other portable devices can be used more effectively in teaching and learning English. The adoption of mobile devices has potentially far-reaching consequences for learners, learning design and how learning is supported by teachers and advisors.
The research challenge, therefore, is to develop a framework for pedagogical guidance to support adult learners’ use of their mobile devices for English language learning, recognising new opportunities for engagement with those who are exploring mobile applications informally in their daily lives.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

A pedagogical framework will be proposed and an international group of Experts will be brought together for comment and consultation. A number of mobile apps that can help with learning English will be identified and evaluated; based on the framework and target users groups. The project includes interviews with teachers and learners. Learner studies will be carried out to identify desirable mobile device features and apps and consider a number of pedagogic strategies with teachers and advisers.

Findings and outputs

The project will produce an open access guide and research findings will be disseminated to a wide range of stakeholders. 

Project impact

There is growing demand for research and guidance on the use of mobile technology for English language learning across the globe. The project’s free, open access guide will be published online and will be available to an international audience of teachers of adult learners. Secondary school teachers are also likely to find it beneficial. Other important audiences are policy makers and mobile application developers across all continents.


Mobile Language Learning, MALL, mobile applications, pedagogy, migrant learners, international students. 

People involved

Professor Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, IET
Dr Jim Donohue, OpenELT
Lucy Norris, Research Associate

Project partners and links

The British Council
The project is working with international experts and making connections with several educational institutions, among them City College Brighton and Hove


The British Council - ELT Research Partnerships

Start Date and Duration

2 September 2013 to 30 August 2014

Research & Innovation